Author Topic: White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing  (Read 20158 times)

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Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 18:42:25 »
Got my macally mk96 today, and of course I promptly dissembled a switch and tried 3 mods to silence it. Results and pics are below.  

The beast:



White alps indeed:


When switch is removed (using the "insert-2-screwdrivers-and-wiggle-them-both method"), note that the contact switch on the alps is located towards the front side of the board. On my (gray) strongmans smk85, the contact switch is on the rear side of the board.


The switch deconstructs into the usual parts



This is the click leaf: note how narrow it is compared to the one on the gray strongmans. Note too the pronounced "hammer" spot on it.



Another view, side profile of the click leaf.



I found the white alps to be as "loud as **ck" as everyone here says. Also the tactile bump on it is more pronounced than the white strongman bump, IIRC.  Its a great switch but my neighbors wont handle the noise, so on a whim I tried 3 ways to tamp down the volume.

Way #1) I removed the click leaf altogether. This made the switch sound and feel like a light version of a black cherry switch. Thats the best way to describe it -- and in other words, it felt pretty cool! However since I've gotten used to some tactility, I opted not to do that for myself.

Way #2) I put a piece of electrical tape over the "hammer" on the leaf (see pic), hoping to mute it.  And mute it, it did: it basically sounded like gray or black alps at that point. The "click" part was virtually eliminated, I mean if you really held your ear against it, you could barely hear it. It retained its normal tactile feel but the audio was basically gone. (So in that case may as well get a black or gray alps board, right? So I didnt keep that either)



Way #3) I took one of the leafs, and "squished" it where it bends. The idea being to reduce the spring tension on the leaf, which would presumably simultaneously reduce both tactile bump feel as well as click "smack" noise.  And this worked as expected too-- so much so that the switch at that point felt like a brown cherry switch (ie, very light resistance and bump), with an added very light click sound (the kind of sound that is easily overpowered by bottoming and topping clacks). The click here was basically reduced to the strongman click level (it reminded me of the click on the matias tp2). So for me, the click sound level was about right now, but the feel became too light (I've found brown cherries to be too light for my taste). So again I chose not to keep it that way. A little re-bending and the leaf was back to normal.


Other notes: re-assembly is a PITA: Unlike gray strongmans (where the leaf stays in the top of the switch with friction), getting the leaf here back into the top part, and then fitting the top part back onto the baseplate socket, was a royal PITA. Unlike on the gray strongmans, the tiny leaf here refuses to stay in the top part with friction. It immediately falls out when you turn the top part right-side-up in order to place it onto the bottom part.
The solution was to literally install it upside down while holding the entire keyboard upside down.
Its not as hard as it sounds, but it took a while to figure out.
UPDATE: Bigpook successfully reinstalled these switches without the clip falling out. He says,
Quote

 "Initially it did [fall out], but I pushed it in and it clicked/stuck to the key post. I think the key post was flush with the housing when I did it. It stayed in place that way with no issue."  

So it may be possible to reinsert these without bending over backwards (literally). (I think by "key post" here, he means the slider/plunger part).
Update 2: figured it out: The following is one technique for getting the leaf to stay in when you're re-assembling the switch. Basically here's what you do: Put the white slider/plunger into the top part of the switch. Then put in the leaf. (The third part, the spring, goes onto the bump or 'nipple' in the keyboard socket). Now, before you turn the top part (containing the plunger and leaf) right-side-up, push the slider "down" just slightly. This makes it push against the tactile bumps on the leaf, thus holding it in place. At that point you can turn the top part right-side-up and the leaf wont fall out. Works reliably every time.

Conclusion: White alps are charming, but too loud for me and I'd probably like a smaller tactile bump too. I'd like to try the white strongmans again because if I'm recalling correctly, and they are a lighter, softer version of the white alps. For instance, I'm loving my (gray) strongmans in the smk85.

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Offline xsphat

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 18:59:13 »
They are great switches though. I love the loudness and the feel is unmatched and I think a lot of that is because of the long throw.

Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 19:07:09 »
The click leaf looks very different to the ones I have. Mine look like these in the top right:
http://park16.wakwak.com/~ex4/kb/tech_alps_bigfoot3.htm

Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 19:27:40 »
Quote from: Chloe;15284
The click leaf looks very different to the ones I have. Mine look like these in the top right:
http://park16.wakwak.com/~ex4/kb/tech_alps_bigfoot3.htm


yours is white alps switch too? (not strongmans?) Interesting that white alps would have 2 diff leafs. Cant help but wonder how that translates to sound and feel between them. (probably not much diff tho).

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Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 19:29:07 »
Quote from: webwit;15286
Great info. Just some mindless gibberish from me... I wonder what would happen if the spaces are closed, especially the inner rectangle.
.


interesting idea, I suppose it would contribute a muting effect, though just how much is hard to say.

You could probably fill the inner rectangle with elmers glue and see if it makes any difference in sound.

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Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 19:38:30 »
Quote from: wellington1869;15287
yours is white alps switch too? (not strongmans?) Interesting that white alps would have 2 diff leafs. Cant help but wonder how that translates to sound and feel between them. (probably not much diff tho).

They're real ALPS, not simplified. I haven't desoldered one yet to check for gold plating, but they have the little slits in the upper casing mentioned here:
http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/alps_sw/upper_case4.jpg

Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 20:14:32 »
Quote from: wellington1869;15287
yours is white alps switch too? (not strongmans?) Interesting that white alps would have 2 diff leafs. Cant help but wonder how that translates to sound and feel between them. (probably not much diff tho).

I think they're simplified ALPS. They have the little slits in the upper casing mentioned here, but internally they look like the simplified white ALPS in this thread:
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=cn&u=http://forum.talkdigi.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=19

Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 20:27:03 »
Quote from: wellington1869;15287
yours is white alps switch too? (not strongmans?) Interesting that white alps would have 2 diff leafs. Cant help but wonder how that translates to sound and feel between them. (probably not much diff tho).


They're real ALPS. They have the little slits in the upper casing mentioned here, and internally they look like the white ALPS in this thread:
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=cn&u=http://forum.talkdigi.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=19

Offline alpslover

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 20:43:11 »
wellington, those switches in your mk96 do not appear to be real alps switches.  not only do the internals seem to be the 'simplified' version (blurry pics), but the switches don't look like they have the 'alps' stamp on them.

some of my focus 2001's have these fake alps switches.  they're very loud and very tactile, but i find my 2001's with real alps switches to have a smoother action and as a result i type a bit faster on them.

Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 20:53:05 »
Quote from: alpslover;15305
wellington, those switches in your mk96 do not appear to be real alps switches.  not only do the internals seem to be the 'simplified' version (blurry pics), but the switches don't look like they have the 'alps' stamp on them.

some of my focus 2001's have these fake alps switches.  they're very loud and very tactile, but i find my 2001's with real alps switches to have a smoother action and as a result i type a bit faster on them.


Well this conversation about whether mk96 has "real alps" has come up before, I was going by XS's comparison of them with the real alps (stamped alps) in one of his other boards, where he said he could not find any difference in sound or feel. The general conclusion was that that mk96, even tho its not stamped, is most likely alps and not strongman or other.  I believe the general consensus was that not all real alps were stamped with 'alps.'  Feel free to discuss that here, I'd love to know as well, but side by side comparisons by a few people on geekhack seem to back that up.

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Offline cchan

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 21:42:33 »
Quote from: alpslover;15305
wellington, those switches in your mk96 do not appear to be real alps switches.  not only do the internals seem to be the 'simplified' version (blurry pics), but the switches don't look like they have the 'alps' stamp on them.

some of my focus 2001's have these fake alps switches.  they're very loud and very tactile, but i find my 2001's with real alps switches to have a smoother action and as a result i type a bit faster on them.
I have three Focus FK-2001's... One is in the garage and I've done nothing with it, one I'm taking all the click leaves out of and converting to linear, and one I'm keeping as it is.

The one I'm keeping as it is has switches with decent action, they're all consistent through the board and about as smooth as the black logo'ed ALPS in my AT101. Though I don't prefer them because I find them a little disorienting - there's no return click like with buckling springs. But these are ALPS logo switches. I've not opened one up to check the contacts if they're complicated or simplified.

The one I'm linearizing has wildly inconsistent switches; they don't feel as smooth as the one Im keeping stock, and some stick at the bottom of the keystroke. This isn't a function of my removing the click leaves and possibly ruining the switches; it was present before I did any work on the board so in hindsight I should have junked that board and not done anything with it. These switches have no logo at all, and they have the simplified contact design.

I probably have quite bad examples of the boards. I got them free from my school IT admin.

But I can definitely corroborate alpslover's assessment of superiority of genuine ALPS as opposed to knockoffs. (Not sure if my FK-2001's switches are strongman.)

alpslover: Just curious; is your FK-2001 with stamped ALPS the one with the backslash to the right of a truncated shift? Mine is. Mine with ALPS knockoffs is the one with backslashes between ctrl and alt.

ETA: Forgot to mention, my fake ALPS switches look exactly like wellington's disassembly pictures. I too have the narrow click leaf.
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Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 22:19:23 »
XS, what do you think? Real or fake alps in your mk96?

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Offline alpslover

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 22:36:34 »
Quote from: wellington1869;15306
Well this conversation about whether mk96 has "real alps" has come up before, I was going by XS's comparison of them with the real alps (stamped alps) in one of his other boards, where he said he could not find any difference in sound or feel. The general conclusion was that that mk96, even tho its not stamped, is most likely alps and not strongman or other.  I believe the general consensus was that not all real alps were stamped with 'alps.'  Feel free to discuss that here, I'd love to know as well, but side by side comparisons by a few people on geekhack seem to back that up.


it's true that not all real alps were stamped with 'alps'.  the best way to tell is to open the switches up and look at the switch contacts.

the desirable, 'cream of the crop' genuine alps switches have the more complex contact assembly with the plastic in the middle:
http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/fk2001/sw2vga.jpg

the genuine alps 'simplified' switches have this contact assembly:
http://www7.ocn.ne.jp/~hisao/image/8851_41.jpg

fake/counterfeit/imitation alps-like 'simplified' switches will not look like the genuine alps 'simplified'.  example:
http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/fk2001/swassybl3.jpg

Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 22:38:34 »
fyi, I fired off an email to the macally corporation asking who makes the switches in this board...

whatever is in the mk96, its not strongmans I'm pretty sure. It feels nothing like the tp2 which supposedly has strongmans. And nothing like my DSI smk85 which supposedly has strongmans.

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Offline alpslover

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 22:53:27 »
Quote from: Tales;15309

The one I'm linearizing has wildly inconsistent switches; they don't feel as smooth as the one Im keeping stock, and some stick at the bottom of the keystroke. This isn't a function of my removing the click leaves and possibly ruining the switches; it was present before I did any work on the board so in hindsight I should have junked that board and not done anything with it. These switches have no logo at all, and they have the simplified contact design.


this is also what i've found with the fake alps simplified switches - they tend to vary in consistency and are more likely to have that 'sticky' feeling.


Quote
alpslover: Just curious; is your FK-2001 with stamped ALPS the one with the backslash to the right of a truncated shift? Mine is. Mine with ALPS knockoffs is the one with backslashes between ctrl and alt.


interesting you mention that, because i have three focus 2001's with the backslashes between ctrl and alt, and two of them have genuine alps switches, and the other has the knockoff switches.  i also have three 2001's that have windows keys and they all have the fake alps switches.

it seems the only way to tell which switches you'll get with a 2001 is to pull a keycap.  although from what i've read on the web, buying a 2001 with windows keys pretty much guarantees you'll get fake alps.

Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 23:04:40 »
well the mk96 doesnt have any consistency or 'sticking' issues... its just loud as all hell

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Offline cchan

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 18 December 2008, 23:10:46 »
Quote from: alpslover;15323
interesting you mention that, because i have three focus 2001's with the backslashes between ctrl and alt, and two of them have genuine alps switches, and the other has the knockoff switches.  i also have three 2001's that have windows keys and they all have the fake alps switches.

it seems the only way to tell which switches you'll get with a 2001 is to pull a keycap.  although from what i've read on the web, buying a 2001 with windows keys pretty much guarantees you'll get fake alps.
My garaged board has the backslashes between ctrl and alt. I've not checked what switch it has though. I don't have any 2001s with windows keys.
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Offline xsphat

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 01:23:54 »
I don't know what to say. The switches in the MK96 feel that same as the ones in my Northgate. iMav put his MK96 up against his old school Datadesk Mac-101 and he said the same thing — the switches feel the same. At this point, I don't care what the switches are if they feel THIS close to real Alps whites.

Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 02:29:49 »
If they feel the same I think the internal differences are less important, although they might translate to different kinds of wear and feel with long-term use.

It would be nice to see macro pics of the other part of the switch. I'm wondering if the narrower leaf can move around in the housing. I took apart one of my ALPS again to show how the click leaf sits in the upper housing (with a small gap either side, but the stem guides keep it in place). By pushing the stem out the click leaf just stays in place for refitting.

Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 02:59:02 »
since I'm collecting alps boards now, I'll post macros of any switch I find. I'm going to mix and match a bunch of combinations too:
leaf/no leaf
dampers/no dampers
click/no click
and all combinations thereof :)

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Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 04:03:52 »
I'd be interested in your findings. :)

How much electrical tape did you use to dampen the click? I tried with one layer over the click bump on the leaf and didn't really notice much difference. With three layers the click is much quieter.

Offline itlnstln

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 06:11:14 »
The click from the leaf does not bother me much, so if it is such a PITA to replace the leaf, I might skip that part in my Northgate mod.  I am much more concerned with the top and bottom clack.  Thanks for the pics (you're making my job easier ;) ).


Offline Chloe

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 07:52:54 »
I like the click. It would be nice to fix the clack, I think it would sound much better without it.

I found some more pics of simplified ALPS:
http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/mac_kb_wiz_s_alps.html

Offline alpslover

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 10:07:47 »
Quote from: wellington1869;15324
well the mk96 doesnt have any consistency or 'sticking' issues... its just loud as all hell


Quote from: xsphat;15333
I don't know what to say. The switches in the MK96 feel that same as the ones in my Northgate. iMav put his MK96 up against his old school Datadesk Mac-101 and he said the same thing — the switches feel the same.  At this point, I don't care what the switches are if they feel THIS close to real Alps whites.


Quote from: Chloe;15336
If they feel the same I think the internal differences are less important, although they might translate to different kinds of wear and feel with long-term use.


yes, that's it - the fake alps switches might be consistent and smooth now, but use them for a few years and they're more likely to lose their consistency and smoothness than the genuine ones.

you can build a cheaper version of a car with low quality parts instead of good ones, and the car might drive and feel the same when it's new, but what about 30k miles later?

Offline alpslover

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 10:15:20 »
Quote from: Chloe;15345

I found some more pics of simplified ALPS:
http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/mac_kb_wiz_s_alps.html


yes, notice that these are not genuine alps simplified switches, but rather two different knockoffs of them.

Offline alpslover

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 10:18:16 »
Quote from: Chloe;15336
I'm wondering if the narrower leaf can move around in the housing.


not any more than the wider ones, because the housing is designed to hold them more or less in place:

http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/macally/sw_comp.jpg

Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 12:16:53 »
Quote from: itlnstln;15344
The click from the leaf does not bother me much, so if it is such a PITA to replace the leaf, I might skip that part in my Northgate mod.  I am much more concerned with the top and bottom clack.  Thanks for the pics (you're making my job easier ;) ).


hey itln, well it might be different in the northgate if the switch construction is different. Would be worthwhile to try it on one key and see.

Also another easier option is removing leaf altogether; if you wanted silent no-tactile version (with the dampers).
(wouldnt no-tactile version with dampers be pretty close to topre? does topre have tactile bump?) (update: to answer my own question, topre has a very slight barely-noticeable tactile bump)

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Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 12:21:52 »
Quote from: Chloe;15342

How much electrical tape did you use to dampen the click? I tried with one layer over the click bump on the leaf and didn't really notice much difference. With three layers the click is much quieter.


I just used one layer and the click nearly vanished! Though it was a long-ish piece that ran nearly the full length of the leaf (from hammer to about 3/4 of the way to the end) if that made any difference.

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

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Offline wellington1869

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White alps: dissembly and attempted silencing
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 19 December 2008, 12:27:14 »
Quote from: Chloe;15345
I like the click. It would be nice to fix the clack, I think it would sound much better without it.


chloe and itln, sounds like aek dampers would fix top/bottom clacks, but the following also sort of works. On my smk85 I put a rubber washer on the underside of the alps keys (on spacebar and backspace which had bottoming clacks that were too loud) and the bottoming clack is pretty much gone now (and you get a soft landing too). No noticeable difference in key height or function.
Top clack remains but it is relatively mild compared to bottom clack. The resulting sound pretty much sounds like topre on those two keys.

Worked really well, so as an alternate to the dampers that might work too.

I also ordered a bunch of tiny rubber bands used on braces (got 100 of them for $3 w/ free shipping on ebay :) ) and will try those in place of rubber washers as well.

Rubber washers were .17 cents each. For 110 plungers on a normal board, thats actually over $17! The tiny rubber bands, if they work, would accomplish the same for about $3. :)

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

using: ms 7000/Das 3